Christian Group Sues Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon Over Arab International Festival

A group of Christian evangelists are suing Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and two other officials from his department for failing to protect them during a demonstration that took place at Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Mich. this June.

The American Freedom Law Center, which bills itself as a Judeo-Christian public interest law firm, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Tuesday on behalf of several members of the evangelical group called Bible Believers.

Plaintiffs Ruben Chavez (also known as Ruben Israel), Arthur Fisher, and Joshua DeLosSantos were walking along the sidewalk at the festival in June, when they became involved in a confrontation with a crowd of people who began yelling and throwing objects at them. The Detroit Free Press reports that the Christian missionaries, including members of Bible Believers, provoked the crowd with signs with phrases such as "Islam is a religion of blood and murder" and "Muhammad (Islam's prophet) is a ... liar, false prophet, murderer, child molesting pervert."

The incident is documented in a YouTube video.

"The Christians are suing officials from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office who sided with the Muslim mob intent on suppressing the Christians’ speech," said a press release on the AFLC website. "As alleged in the lawsuit, the officials failed to protect the Christians and in fact ordered them to leave the Arab Festival under threat of arrest for 'disorderly conduct.'”

The Wayne County Sherrif's Department signed an agreement with Dearborn to handle law enforcement at the event. Along with Sherrif Napoleon, Deputy chiefs Dennis Richardson and Mike Jaafar, who appeared on the now-canceled reality show “All-American Muslim," were also named in the suit. Paula Bridges, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office told the Press & Guide Tuesday that the agency had not yet seen the lawsuit and would not comment on pending litigation.

In recent years Dearborn, Mich. has become a target of right-wing christian criticism and protests -- including visits by the Koran-burning Forida pastor Terry Jones -- because of its large and highly visible Muslim community.

WARNING: This video of the disturbance at the Arab International Festival features some strong language and may be NSFW.